By Laurent Lamothe
The global South is poised to be a major driver of global economic growth and represents an important element of international cooperation for sustainable development in the region. South-South cooperation is also an expression of solidarity that promotes two-way knowledge sharing and cooperation based on the principle of equality and a genuine desire for mutual development.
UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres says; “Driven by a spirit of solidarity, respect for national sovereignty and equal partnership, South-South cooperation has offered concrete solutions to shared development challenges.”
Partnerships between countries of the South have seen success with more children getting an education, child and maternal mortality rates decreased by nearly 50% as well as a notable reduction in extreme poverty. FDI outflows from these partnerships account for one-third of investments in the South, and one-quarter of the world trade happening between developing countries.
Technology has played a key role in the global South by providing a sustainable platform, a 24/7 connectedness to harness the power of partnerships. It enables the region to drive innovation on development issues through collaborations, sharing knowledge and skills, generating of new ideas and successful initiatives in specific areas such as infrastructure, health, climate change and economic growth.
During my tenure as Prime Minister of Haiti, Morocco was and remains an important partner with its education scholarship program for young Haitian students. This has benefited both our countries, with an increase in bright young graduates entering the workforce in both the private and public sector. Through the use of technology, Haiti created a comprehensive free education programme. To date, the programme has sent 1.4 million Haitian children to school which has dramatically increased elementary school attendance.
However, the global South is also faced with serious challenges, with climate change and the effect on agricultural production and food security being challenge that is shared by many nations in the South.
The reality is that many developing countries (most of which are in the global South) are home to roughly 80 per cent of the world’s population, 98% of humanity’s hungry people, and 78% of harvested croplands. Released this year the EU’s Global Report on Food Crises estimates that around 113 million people in 53 countries experienced acute food insecurity in 2018 and found that climate and natural disasters pushed another 29 million people into acute food insecurity in 2018.
Recently Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Bourita said that only through increased cooperation and genuine political will can Africa and the global South at large meet challenges like food security and other aspects of sustainable development amid the dire prospect of climate-caused crises.
The role of technology in fighting climate change is two-fold. Firstly it provides a platform for stakeholders from both the private and public sector to form partnerships and implement solutions to better prepare countries to withstand the impact of climate change.
An excellent example of this is the Caribbean “Climate-Smart Zone” and Accelerator. The Accelerator has created an unprecedented coalition including 26 countries and over 40 private and public sector partners. The goal is to implement climate solutions for resilience, renewable energy, development of sustainable cities, oceans and transportation. This climate-smart zone will not only protect the region but create jobs and a new economy based on climate-smart infrastructure.
Secondly, technology can generate new revenue streams. Mitigating the impact of climate change will not be cheap, and nations of the South should not incur further debt or rely on foreign aid, these are not sustainable solutions.
Daily billions of digital transactions are taking place in any given country. Applying a painless micro levy to these transactions will generate billions of new revenue streams. Innovative Finance is a solution that provides governments with a tool to create new sources of revenue that does not increase a countries debt level or require citizens to pay more tax. This applied at a regional level could provide a real solution to fighting a regional issue such as climate change.
The importance of increased South-South cooperation to address the impact of that climate change is having on the region cannot be understated. However, technology and partnerships will play a critical role to harness the power of the global South.